Methodists turning complementarian?

Who would have thought it? Of course the seeds are there just waiting to germinate. And germinate they will.

According to the Houston Chronicle (June 1, 2014, Methodist churches face split over gay issues), they are about to split in two.

Whenever conservative Christians – Methodists or any other denomination – get together, women suffer.

Christian conservatism is a three-legged stool 1) gays; 2) women; 3) Bible inerrancy. These fundamentalists do not stand on two legs.

This split is about Bible inerrancy, ordaining gay clergy, and performing same-sex marriages. Gays will neither benefit nor suffer from this division into two Methodists groups, because they already can get married in many states whether the church allows it or not. It will be women who suffer, by a loss of churches willing to accept a woman pastor and by marriage seminars teaching male headship. This conservative (fundamentalist) group will begin with denouncing gays and same-sex marriages, and then you wil find they are rejecting women pastors.

Methodists have within their membership those who believe in male headship and this group will identify with those other denominations that teach against homosexuality and who also deny women equality to preach or pastor.

And then Methodists will be complementarian in their teaching and beliefs.

Openly gay pastors are a rarity, even among those who accept gay pastors. However, there are many gay pastors among evangelical fundamental Christians and Catholics. None of these denominations affirm gay pastors, but they are there. Conservative churches know they have gay pastors within their churches, but do not make an issue of it until something happens. Thus, there will continue to be male gay pastors in the split-off Methodist churches. But you can count on it, these split-off churches will not continue to accept female pastors.

I urge all Methodists to take action. Now is not the time to sit and wait.

About bwebaptistwomenforequality

Shirley Taylor writes with humor and common sense, challenging the church body to reclaim equality for Christian women.
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10 Responses to Methodists turning complementarian?

  1. Billy McMahon says:

    I’m a Methodist from the Texas Annual Conference and I think this evaluation is a straw person argument. I realize that in the case of Anglican schism, newer conservative denominations retracted support for female leadership. But I would say that the majority of folks I know in the Confessing Movement camp (i.e. The conservative, anti-homosexuality movement) see this issue of female leadership as a complete non-sequitur. UMC conservative are primarily concerned about bible + homosexuality. As a Baptist, you likely have experienced something else, but I really do think the DNA of the UMC is quite different.
    Of course, I know female Methodist clergy who have faced scrutiny in certain contexts (i.e. Small town church + first female pastor), but most conservatives I know see a pragmatic and theological need for egalitarian ecclesial leadership. Many Methodists are indeed complementarian in other arenas of life, but the church seems to be different.
    To be a bit more nitty gritty, the Confessing aim is to defend our Book of Discipline (mainly the current stance on homosexuality). The Discipline also affirms the calling of God on everyone’s life, regardless of male/female. I’ve been raised in the UMC my whole life and never heard anyone attempt to modify this part of our polity. And believe me, I’ve been all across the conservative/liberal spectrum in the churches I’ve been a part of or have worked for.


  2. krwordgazer says:

    Yes, we can’t hide our femininity like a gay pastor can hide his gayness. So do we have to dress as men now to be in the ministry?


  3. TL says:

    It is frustrating to be continually passed over for preaching when we are qualified. As well to see a guy be encouraged to be ordained that is not as gifted or qualified as some women are, and the women never encouraged to do the same. This is not God at work.


  4. Billy McMahon says:

    Not sure why my comment didn’t post earlier, but hopefully this shows up.
    I’m a methodist from the Texas Annual Conference, and I think this is somewhat of a straw person argument. Sure, other denominations facing schism have dealt with this issue, but I would say the DNA of the UMC is different. (Also, the “on the brink of schism” talk seems more akin to sensationalist news headlines than what’s happening on the ground. Likely, if change were to come regarding homosexuality, this would happen at General Conference 2016. I’d also like to point out that there have been many constructive, non-schismatic plans developed by people like Adam Hamilton).
    Even folks in the Confessing Movement camp recognize the necessity for female leadership in the church. From bishops to senior pastors, I see the UMC as affirming the role of women. I’ve heard of problems with rural, small-town churches, but this instance seems restricted to these contexts. Then again, my conference might be different from others.
    For what it’s worth, I have never heard anyone from the conservative faction of my denomination call for amending the Book of Discipline to adopt complementarianism. Many will debate over the question of homosexuality, but the complementarian question is a non-sequitur in this regard. I recognize that this issue affects denominations differently and there are many unknowns right now, but I suppose I’m a bit confused by your assumptions and conclusions. Connecting gay rights with complementarianism may be necessary in other contexts, but specifically with the UMC, I don’t exactly see the logical connection. I would love for you to explain further and continue this conversation.


    • Welcome, Billy. I could not approve your comment because I was at a family reunion in Northeast Texas with a bunch of Baptists, Pentecostals, and what-have-yous! Three years ago I was at a Methodist wedding in a huge church where the minister gave the marriage to the groom “you have a greater responsibility.” That is complementarian. About women pastors, when men can give something, they can take it away. Women were made full recipients of clergy in Methodist churches in 1956. There are roughly 1/3 women serving as full ministers in Methodist clergy. Did you know that even though Assemblies of God, and Pentecostals were founded on the belief that women could preach and pastor, that there are few today serving as such? Oh, the women can serve alongside her husband as a ‘co-pastor’ but not in full authority because they have bought into male headship. Among my family at this family reunion was a Pentecostal preacher and his wife. They would not even look at my book “Women Equal-No Buts: Powered by the same Source” because their religion has changed. Methodists who are not aware of this, or who have blinders on, will not see it coming, but it will come, I can assure you.


      • Billy McMahon says:

        Thanks for the response! Very interesting. Disturbing, but interesting. I’m about two years from commissioning and four from ordination in the UMC, so I appreciate you sharing your experience. How we talk about gender relations matters greatly.


      • Thank you, Billy. In case you missed this comment after yours and my reply, I am copying my reply because it explains more.
        “Almost uniformly, Christians find it easy to exclude gays and lesbians. So nobody will say anything. But it doesn’t stop there. Once you hate, and once you declare biblical inerrancy, women are next in line. It will happen. And the sad thing is, that the gays will still be there, but women will not.” God’s blessings to you. (By the way, I became a Methodist 2 years ago).


  5. Cindy K says:


    Some of this same kind of discussion cropped up within a Christian homeschooling circle this week. LGBT is a wedge that is being used to polarize people so that they can be easily manipulated into black and white thinking. It’s disgusting.


    • Almost uniformly, Christians find it easy to exclude gays and lesbians. So nobody will say anything. But it doesn’t stop there. Once you hate, and once you declare biblical inerrancy, women are the next things in line. It will happen. And the sad thing is, that the gays will still be there, but women will not.


  6. Cindy K says:

    And the manipulators drag everyone around with the word “Biblical” like we’re all dogs on a choke chain.


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